Photoacoustic imaging of microenvironmental changes in facial cupping therapy

Yingying Zhou, Fei Cao, Huanhao Li, Xiazi Huang, Dongshan Wei, Lidai Wang, Puxiang Lai (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


As a traditional medicine practice, cupping therapy has been widely used to relieve symptoms like fatigue, tension, and muscle pain. During the therapy, negative pressure is applied to the skin for a while with an intention to enhance blood circulation or induce micro-bleeding. The therapeutic effect, however, is not clear due to the lack of direct quantification. Aiming at a quantitative assessment of the treatment effect, we explore optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM) in monitoring the structural and functional changes after cupping. We find that, after 5-minutes of ∼ 20 kPa negative pressure cupping, more capillaries appear in the focus, and micro-blooding is observed from the capillaries. We quantify the images and find the blood vessel density is increased by 64%, and the total hemoglobin concentration in both the veins and the arteries exhibits 62% and 40% elevation, respectively. Oxygen saturation in the vein and artery decreased by 17% and 3% right after cupping, respectively. After two hours of recovery, the three blood-related parameters return to their original levels, indicating that the effects in the tissue last only a short period after cupping at the given pressure and time duration. Note that no significant cupping marks are induced with the treatment parameters in this study. This work proposes OR-PAM to quantitatively monitor and evaluate the effect of cupping therapy from the perspective of imaging. The method is also useful for accurate control of the therapeutic outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2394-2401
Number of pages8
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


Dive into the research topics of 'Photoacoustic imaging of microenvironmental changes in facial cupping therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this